We all do it. Every day. At work. At home. In the kitchen. In a traffic jam. In bed …You would probably think it is about ‘breathing’. Well, that is not what I am talking about.
It is about being active on the internet, on your smartphone, laptop, tablet … Day-in-day-out; booking a holiday, searching for a new couch, a recipe for shortbread dough, shoes for the children, new blinds, “just” answering a business mail. It is called Action Addiction.
The internet is fast. It is all happening with one click at the button. The purchase has been made, the information need has been met, the problem has been resolved. Yet the need to solve something quickly pops up again. Addicted to the action itself and to the need to complete something. And when that is “dissolved”, a substance is released in our brains, called dopamine. Dopamine is a substance that belongs to the reward system of the brain. And ensures that we feel satisfied and rewarded. Therefore, we repeat this process so more dopamine is produced in the brain. As a result this makes us feel good. And we want to experience this more often and come into a vicious circle. And with that comes the word “action addiction“.
Turn the tide
We live in a time when we can no longer live without it. Or it seems like that. Recently I had to deal with an electricity failure at home for several hours. No light, electricity, two smartphones with low battery. What now? It actually went very well. It was already dark outside, without the street lights lighting up. Magic. With all candles and flashlights we found we lit up the living room. Because it was New Year’s Eve, we already had the traditional ‘oliebollen’ in the house. Fireplace on. And therefore we had enough food in the house anyway … So “surviving” was no problem at all. It was so nice to feel and experience the ease of having no electricity. We played a board game instead of a Wii game. The children found it all very exciting. Since there was no electricity. Life was fun after all. And it was much more relaxed, without the continuous flow of digital stimuli. Back to basics. PEACE. ‘Go with the flow’. For a moment only dealing with stimuli of a natural kind.
Mindfulness and Yoga
But in fact, that is kind of “cheating”. The ‘being shut off’ of all digital stimuli, when it is already a fact. How does it work when we are in the middle of it? How do we ensure that we do not get carried away in the constant flow of information. Mindfulness brings awareness. When it comes to not giving in to the action addiction, it is important that you get a number of points at a glance:
-Place clear goals that help you to be more focused. Mindfulness helps you realize your goals with more focus and awareness.
– Unconscious processes can stand in the way of achieving your goals. By being aware of it, these processes can help you.
– Blind focus is something different than combining focus with consciousness. By blindly focusing you lose sight of everything else (consciousness …). And as a result you lose effectiveness.
-It is important that you write down important goals in your work and in your personal life. Formulate them in detail and therefore you positively increase the chances of success.
Finally, yoga helps you to live more in balance. Especially in times of stress, lack of exercise and digital distraction. Disconnect. It helps to harmonize the emotional, mental and emotional aspects of life. Added to that and the list is long.. Yoga will make you a stronger person. Both mentally and physically. It will also improve your circulatory, immunity, fitness. The meaning of life (this might sound heavy) will get to you. And from there you can start releasing turmoil to leading a fulfilling life. Of course this is the ultimate goal. While daily life throws a lot at us it can be hard to stay balanced. But to be conscious every day only for a couple of hours..It’s a start 😉
What is yoga?
What is yoga all about? It is not a religion. Not a way of life that lectures you to live your life a certain way. Yoga is about life. About me, you, all of us trying to find a way. You do not have to be happy, or stand out, there are no competitions, no medals to be achieved and there is no goal either? So why would you start, you might wonder?
The contemporary Western assumption is that yoga, like all else, is a skill. Looking from the outside, it seems nothing more than a series of funny postures More than postures that help to solve flexibility and stress. I also thought yoga was so black and white. But from the moment of my first training, I realized that there is so much more. Yoga is about diving deep into yourself, knowing who you thought you were, the layers of which you think you should peel off and settle in who you really are. Yoga is about feeling all things and making those feelings happen. Yoga is about discovering the beautiful person you already are, and not hiding it for someone. Yoga is about having good days, having bad days and having days that are a bit of both. Yoga is about seeing yourself in others, even if they make you angry. Yoga is about trying new things – things that make you scared – not getting attached to those things. Yoga is about being honest.
What is true?
So let’s be honest. Yoga is not as beautiful as it looks like on Instagram. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. I have never sweat or cried as much as I have done on my yoga mat except maybe during the birth of my children. These were tears of deep happiness, fatigue and pain. If I say it’s about diving deep into yourself, I mean deeply Sadness is your Joy . I encountered things that I thought I had processed a long time ago. Either way, tucked away deeply. My thoughts, feelings, relationships, conversations, memories, they all come along in the flow of a yoga practice. And the strange thing is, that it’s all amazing! I feel like I’m making progress; I’m getting this new person, this better person. The crazy thing is that I cannot really explain. For family and friends, I am that person talking yoga-talk, trying to get it across. They are politely nodding their head. Clearly don’t have a clue what it is I am talking about. And that is absolutely fine. It is my (yoga) story, my path. And not theirs.
Yoga for YOU
Indeed, yoga can be lonesome. It is an individual exercise, and what you experience on your mat will be very different from what I experience on mine. I always tell my students that there is no wrong or right in yoga – that’s just it. Existence knows no right and wrong There are days I am on my mat and I’m completely distracted by what is going on in my head. And other days I’m on my mat and I can’t get enough of it. In my own practice, I discovered that this loneliness is actually the key to ‘my true self’. What is underneath all those layers. Discovering (time after time) who I really am. And that changes continuously. It’s a process. What am I afraid of? The answer is often: fear. When I have recognized my fear, I can see this fear in others too. And I no longer feel alone. Yoga is about unity. We all have the same emotions that come by day-in-day-out. We all know how it feels to be very sad or to be filled with joy. We do not have the same experiences, backgrounds, but we all feel the same things. And those things I had tucked away very deeply? Well, other people have them too. Yoga helps to bring those things to the surface. Yes, we all have the need to get attached to pain and addicted to putting stuff away. When I realized that it was strange to hold on to “fear” and “sadness” I could let go. Yoga is about purifying emotional luggage to make way for more emotional luggage.
Yoga, a problem solver?
Yoga is certainly not a quick solution. My problems are not resolved when I step off my mat. That is the reason why they call it ‘practice’. Yoga takes time. And in a fast moving world it is hard to say we have the time. But if I do not have time for myself, what sense does it make? Yoga is difficult. Life is hard. Yoga trains for life. I would not do it if I did not believe in it. Making people more conscious of life, seeing each other and showing understanding towards one another. With teaching yoga and passing it on, I certainly do not have the wisdom in mind. My life is definitely not perfect. And no, I am not always happy. Bringing yoga to the people means giving the things I have learned from it (Svadhayaya). And the bad days are there too, and the moments of doubt and insecurity. Yoga is not about being perfect. Yoga is about balance. Yoga is about drinking healthy green smoothies and eating pizza. Yoga is about finding acceptance in the world, in others, and especially in yourself.
It’s great to go to a yoga class. The energy that comes from it, in a studio with like-minded people. Practicing yoga together is wonderful. And of course, learning from a good, experienced yoga teacher is fantastic and beneficial. To experience the progress that involves regular yoga practice. But also the overwhelming, positive influence yoga practice can have. It can positively change your life. The space in body and mind that is created by regular yoga practice is so powerful. But for most people joining a yoga class daily at a studio is an impossible task. Even getting to a yoga class in time can already bring a lot of stress. All sweaty and in a rush entering the studio to roll out your mat at the last available tiny spot –rush hour after work-. Unintentionally this can already take away the joy of the yoga class a little bit.
A yoga home practice is not so bad after all. What is it that you need for a home practice? First of all: time, a mat, a room that is relatively quiet and preferably an online yoga class or program. There are a lot of high quality yoga classes and teachers on internet. The offer is broad! The beauty of a home yoga practice is that you can actually feel much better what yoga style fits best that day. And that you can wear those worn out jogging pants with the big tear in the middle. And it’s okay that you haven’t brushed your teeth yet. I also discovered some other benefits of a home practice:
- You do not have to be perfect. In a studio yoga class, you try to do your uttermost best – despite the yoga philosophy – ‘ trying to do it perfectly’. But there is so much we need to be “perfect in”. Our relationships, work, family, life – it can be exhausting!
- The practice of yoga at home gives a short break and takes a bit of the pressure away from our expectations.
- At home there is no teacher to please and no special clothing needs to be worn, you can just be yourself.
- You build up discipline. Try to find a moment in the day when it is natural to practice yoga. No laundry, dishes, dishwasher, no cleaning, vacuum cleaner. Just a laptop or Ipad to match an online yoga class of a teacher you love. A lot of high quality yoga classes on the internet. You will be amazed. Focus at home. The “yoga distraction” provides new opportunities for non-reaction.
- The daily temptations and distractions are big. You can try to find a way by maintaining a yoga home practice.
- It also offers the freedom to choose. I often found myself in a strong Vinyasa lesson. While my whole body was screaming for a soft Yin class. Or exactly the other way around. With a home practice you have the freedom to choose a yoga class that is based on what you need that day. We see and feel a lot more than we think we do. When you close your eyes and listen to your body, the movement you really need may arise. Home practice offers the opportunity to make a self-practice more instinctive, without the limitations of a particular agenda.
- From my own experience I can say that I have never managed challenging asanas in the studio. New advanced asanas I always performed for the first time at home.
- While practicing yoga at home (especially in the morning) there is no rush to be somewhere on time. You can step out of bed and exhale yourself in a foreward fold.
- It costs less. Self-practice with or without online yoga is cheaper. And yes, yoga studios make the difference in the experience of the yoga classes. Without a doubt: We need yoga studios. But if you want to do yoga daily, and –for what reason- you are not able to join a yoga class at a studio, home practice can certainly be a fantastic addition. And apart from that is effective with good online guidance. So why not a few lessons a week at home? Building a home self-practice.
Take the time! Be consistent and see what happens.